History of the Flexbone formation and offense
I first became interested in the flexbone offense after playing NCAA Football 2014 on my Playstation 3. With a roster made up of Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans, Ben Malena, and Tra Carson, it was basically unstoppable. Then, I found a copy of Paul Johnson‘s playbook online, from his days at Georgia Southern in 2002. I highly recommend reading it if you are interested and ready to dork out about football. It is very specific, and we’re going to take more of an overarching glance in this article.
The flexbone offensive formation at its basic form looks like this.
It is derived from the even older school wishbone formation, invented by Darrel K Royal at the University of Texas. After watching the Aggies defeat Bear Bryant’s Alabama in 1968 Royal and his coaches pioneered the wishbone, which looked like this-
The Longhorns used the wishbone to great effect in the 70’s and 80’s, but it found its real home in Norman under Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, who ran it at OU and won three national championships and 12 Big 8 titles. He then went on to win a Super Bowl title with the Dallas Cowboys, and will be one of the first people to tell you that they would have won the title with just about anyone as coach. This run of dominance with the wishbone was so much that the lowest win total the Sooners had under Switzer was seven wins, when they only finished second in the Big 8 and 20th in the final AP poll.
Teams moved the running backs up and introduced motion to the offense to give birth to the flexbone formation we see today. If you want to see it in action, turn on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Navy Midshipmen, Army Black Knights or Air Force Falcons.